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East Alabama school systems consider lifting mask mandates

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 6:53 PM EST
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PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WTVM) - Alabama officials say school mask mandates may be changing soon. The decision may happen because of lower COVID numbers and the ability for kids ages 5 to 11 to get vaccinated now.

Phenix City Schools and Barbour County Schools may be next to drop their mask mandates. However, with pediatric COVID vaccines now available, that’s not the only change that may happen.

Since the school year began, Barbour County students, students and staff have been required to wear masks. However, with no one in the school district testing positive for COVID within the last two weeks, officials are considering getting rid of that mandate.

“I don’t think really that it’s reasonable to keep a mask mandate in place all year long,” said Dr. Zickeyous Byrd.

Dr. Byrd says the policy may be changed at next month’s board meeting. He says something else that may cause the change - the fact that every student can now get their COVID shots.

“We are thankful that the FDA did give the green light for our school-aged children -- our younger children to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Byrd.

“I think it’s wonderful that they can get the vaccine and I think parents should let their children get the vaccine,” said Phenix City resident Linda Mcdaniel.

However, before a decision is finalized, Barbour County parents will be asked to submit an online survey about whether they plan on having their children vaccinated.

Another school district considering changing their mask policy now is Phenix City Schools. Superintendent Randy Wilkes says a decision will be made at the school district’s board meeting next Thursday. He also says there have been little to no COVID-positive cases within the past week.

“I think they should continue to wear the mask until it’s really gone,” said Mcdaniel.

With everyone now able to get their COVID shots, Dr. Byrd says they’re hoping getting those shots will soon be required.

Dr. Byrd said, “We’ve asked the question is it possible that the COVID-19 vaccination will be added to the other list of vaccinations that currently all of our students have to have?”

As of right now, none of those school districts are requiring students to get COVID shots. However, Dr. Byrd says the state superintendent is working with Governor Kay Ivey to see if that can be mandated.

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